Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Across the U.S.: Day 48

by Kathy 10. September 2009 20:14

<< Day 47: St. Louis to Central Iowa  | Day 49: St. Paul, Minnesota >>

Central Iowa to St. Paul, Minnesota


We had a relaxing morning. The children and Ben played some miniature golf, while I caught up on my notes from the last three days of activities.

The St. Louis mosquitoes had left their nibble marks on Sebastian’s legs. Genevieve helped Sebastian count his mosquito bites, and they came up with the astounding number of “35”—yikes!

Last night’s storm had left the sky bright blue, with a few small clouds in the distance.

Our destination today was St. Paul, Minnesota. We had tickets to see the late afternoon performance of the Cirque de Soleil show Kooza.

Ben put the finishing touches on some temporary fixes to the underside of the RV. Several brackets had come loose or fallen off, and we had a hole in one of the two rear air-ride bags. With a combination of safety wire, a bicycle inner tube used as a tie, and a hefty dose of optimism, we headed off.

Bright wildflowers were growing by the roadside--miles and miles of dancing flowers.

After seeing so many white homes yesterday (and this morning), imagine our excitement over seeing a house with pale grey paint!

(Okay, it was not much of a deviation from the norm . . . , but it was enough to give us a small thrill.  Really.) 

We passed one beautiful farm after another.

Several times we saw a row of small signs spaced evenly on the edge of two crop fields. The first time, we noticed a larger sign that identified the area as a “seed variety testing plot.” To my untrained eye, the plants for the two crops always appeared to be the same color and height.

The sky above held a “shark” cloud (use your imagination!):

Every town seemed to have its own water tower that proudly announced the town’s name or related association.

Cedar River:

Downtown Waterloo:

The wind was very strong today, bordering on ferociously wicked.

The corn leaves were shimmying to the right.

Ben did a phenomenal job of maneuvering through all of the road construction and uneven road surfaces while being buffeted around.

A large red apple was painted on the barn of Cedar View Orchard.

As we neared the town of Nashua, Iowa, I looked at my map and noticed a small red square with the label “Little Brown Church.” Ben needed a restroom break; since we were stopping anyway, we decided to continue a bit off of our path and check out the church.

The route to the church took us three miles east of Nashua. We drove by the dam extending across Cedar River.

We found the Little Brown Church nestled in a peaceful field with many trees around it.

I got out of the RV to take a photo and to try to find out more information about the church’s background. While I was walking around outside, I heard the church bells ringing.

The front stairs:

The Old Bradford Academy Bell was displayed near the front of the church.

It had hung in the Academy from 1861 to 1877. The bell had then graced the public schoolhouse until that building had burned down in 1953. It had then been given to the Little Brown Church.

After walking around the church, I poked my head inside the front door, but quickly retreated when I saw what looked like a formal ceremony. As I was walking away, a woman opened the door and called out to me. She was the pastor’s wife, Vicky Mann, and she was exceptionally gracious and warm. She explained that a wedding had just ended but that I was welcome to come inside and look around.

Inside the church, the bride and groom were almost finished posing for photos.

As I was admiring the interior, a loud banging started—like a hammer. Vicky said that many years ago someone had drilled rows of holes in the floor in order to allow hot air to rise from the heating ducts under the church; this design, however, had almost set the church on fire. The holes had then been filled with corks because some of the church women were concerned with the possibility of mice coming up through the floor. Every so often, some of the corks needed replacing. One of the bride’s children was hammering a cork into one of the holes.

Here are the plugged holes in the floor.

I then had the pleasure of meeting the pastor, Jim Mann.

He and Vicky have been married for 43 years.

Pastor Jim filled me in on the church’s background. A song was written about the church even before it was built. The songwriter, William Pitts, had visited this area in 1857 and had been so enthralled with the surrounding beauty that he imagined a small church nestled in the trees. He returned to his home in Wisconsin and wrote a hymn called “The Little Brown Church in the Vale.” When he returned to the spot some years later, he was astounded to see a small church being built in the exact place that he had envisioned when he had written his song. The song, which is also called “The Church in the Wildwood,” gradually grew in popularity and now is found in many church hymnals. (My mother, who grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky, recalls singing that hymn many times.)

The hymn is a part of every wedding that takes place at the church. Pastor Jim said that the marriage vows that were exchanged today marked the 72,937th wedding that has occurred at the church. Wow! Pastor Jim also showed me the rope that is pulled to ring the church bells, and he explained that the ringing of the bells was a part of every wedding ceremony—he tells each couple that they have to learn to pull together.

He was kind enough to let me pull the rope, and to take a photo of me in action!

This was the first time that I had ever rang church bells. The sound was so beautiful.

I was truly honored to have met Pastor Jim and Vicky—both were genuinely kind and caring people.

As we continued north toward Minnesota, we passed another quilt pattern design on the side of a barn.

Large wind turbines were lodged on both sides of the road.

The town of Floyd.

I loved the contrasting colors on this home:

The north end of town had homes with spacious yards.

The farmlands beyond Floyd had some sheep grazing.

More corn fields.

The road ahead:

The 2-lane road was very narrow, with intense winds, lots of oversized trucks and very little shoulder room. This brave bicyclist was pulling an empty small trailer.

Ben and I were startled by a hawk that flew down in front of the RV. It disappeared into the high grass on the side of the road. Just as we reached that spot, the hawk shot upwards, pumping its wings, and clutching a large mouse in its beak.

Entering the town of Osage.

Osage had some beautiful large homes:

(The last one seemed “blind” to me, without any windows in the front of the second story.)

Here is a sweet, smaller home.

A huddle of cows:

More waving corn:

Some farm buildings:

We reached the town of St. Ansger around lunchtime.

We immediately started searching for a park so that the children could play while I prepared some food.

We spied this wedding taking place in a small garden area near the road.

We cut down a side street, made a few more turns, and found a small children’s park.

Sebastian was swinging very high when he slipped off the hard plastic seat and fell to the ground with a thump. He lifted his head up, crying and holding his arm. I had witnessed the harsh impact and thought that perhaps he had broken his arm. He had some scrapes (and a big scare), but no broken bones—whew!

Leaving St. Ansger, we passed the large processing plant for Grain Millers, Inc. and Horizon Foods. A row of train cars sat waiting to be filled.

A small stone and wood sign welcomed us to Minnesota as we entered the town of Lyle (population 566).


We added our wishes that Elsie Hanson have a very happy 97th birthday!

Most of the land in southern Minnesota appeared to be devoted to farming, and the buildings were beautifully maintained.

To ensure that we were on time for the 4 p.m. performance of Kooza, we left our 2-lane road behind and got on the freeway to St. Paul.

We passed the Hormel corporate offices, across the freeway from the Hormel processing plant. Nearby was a large building with a sign indicating that it was the Hormel Institute, a “medical research” facility. My initial reaction was “Ewww,” as I was making a nonappetizing connection between medical research and processed meat (e.g., Spam). However, I have since discovered that the Hormel Institute is a center that focuses on cancer prevention and control. It was established in 1942 by Jay C. Hormel, the son of the Hormel Foods founder.

Three U.S. Airforce jets had been joined into a sculpture at the regional airport outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

As we crossed the Mississippi River, we could see downtown St. Paul in the distance.

St. Paul:

We quickly found the Cirque de Soleil tents, down by the river. We were right on time. Hurrah!

Genevieve and Sebastian at the entrance.

We have been enchanted by every Cirque de Soleil show that we have ever seen.  Kooza was no exception—it was spectacular. My favorite performance was that of two flexible female contortionists. Ben’s favorite was the acrobat who did backwards flips on stilts. Genevieve and Sebastian were both enthralled the most by two men who performed inside and on top of dual, connected, giant, spinning and rotating circles (like a double ferris wheel). Wow.

After the show, we wandered around the nearby warehouse district, which had a lot of public art to appreciate.

I marveled at these artistic door handles.

We had a delicious dinner at the Tanpopo Noodle Shop.

When we emerged from the restaurant, the windows above the noodle shop were catching the brilliance of the setting sun, and reflectiing that light onto the brick wall across the street. The resulting artwork was pure magic.

Good night, St. Paul!


<< Day 47: St. Louis to Central Iowa  | Day 49: St. Paul, Minnesota >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin